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3 DAWs - 3 sounds? Reaper vs Sonar vs Samplitude

3 DAWs - 3 sounds? Reaper vs Sonar vs Samplitude In this video, I test 3 DAWS by doing the exact same mix of the same song. There was a long debate as if every DAWs sounded the same and I thought it was time to get a true answer.

I also give a link to downloadable multitracks songs.

What do you think of the tests, convincing ?

Comments

audiokid Sun, 10/14/2018 - 20:43
I don't know if my ears are fooling me here but Samplitude mids sound better in some mixes. Very nicely done, nicely spoken and very interesting as well.

Anything more you didn't say in the video, Marco? For a long time we've talked about how we all thought simple processing changes the sonic integrity and I think you did a great job demonstrating this.

pcrecord Mon, 10/15/2018 - 04:59
audiokid, post: 459412, member: 1 wrote: I don't know if my ears are fooling me here but Samplitude mids sound better in some mixes. Very nicely done, nicely spoken and very interesting as well.

Anything more you didn't say in the video, Marco? For a long time we've talked about how we all thought simple processing changes the sonic integrity and I think you did a great job demonstrating this.
Thanks Chris, as I say in the video, I hope this is going to be the last video about the subject..
I can't figure out why some people are so emotive about this.
To me it is a none sens for the makers that every DAW would sound the same. Why would you put high money on Protools if reaper sounded the same ? Yes of course workflow, included plugins etc... but still !

I didn't want to go the CPU/Memory usage way in this serie. But it could be an idea for a future video ;)

ronmac Tue, 02/06/2018 - 12:51
Tremendous effort was put into this comparison, so thanks for that. It can be a controversial subject, so I am guessing that your hit meter will be increasing...

There is a clear difference, to me, in each of the samples, even those that had no processing. This sets off some questions and concerns...

The main difference I hear (I haven't done any analysis yet) is the level mismatches, even in the un-mixed clips. Initially, I thought I may have been biased by seeing the text indicating what I was listening to, but I don't think that was it.

I was even more convinced of a difference in levels when I listened to your null tests, and was surprised at how "full spectrum" the results were. If it was simple number crunching that caused the differences I would have expected to hear some anomalies, but not a full, or almost full, spectrum representation.

Have you considered using a pink noise file as a test file, loading it into a few tracks and using the same processing as you used in the mix exercise? You could then do renders pre and post processing and see what level and/or frequency anomalies turn up.

Thanks for challenging us;)

pcrecord Tue, 02/06/2018 - 13:40
ronmac, post: 455661, member: 24337 wrote: Have you considered using a pink noise file as a test file, loading it into a few tracks and using the same processing as you used in the mix exercise? You could then do renders pre and post processing and see what level and/or frequency anomalies turn up.
A very good suggestion. When I get time I'll do that and post results here. !
About the levels, I did set everything the same. This might meen, 0db isn't the same for all DAWs.

What surprised me the most is that Samplitude sounds wider with more hi freq (kinda more air) and more dynamics. You can even see in the spectrum analyser that there is high frequencie harmonics above 20k that others don't have.

Tony Carpenter Wed, 02/07/2018 - 00:02
pcrecord, post: 455663, member: 46460 wrote: A very good suggestion. When I get time I'll do that and post results here. !
About the levels, I did set everything the same. This might meen, 0db isn't the same for all DAWs.

What surprised me the most is that Samplitude sounds wider with more hi freq (kinda more air) and more dynamics. You can even see in the spectrum analyser that there is high frequencie harmonics above 20k that others don't have.

Marco,

While I might accept in this case you showed a difference between these 3 DAWs. I would caution using a blanket statement. I'd also point out that yes, different DAWs do default in some cases to different pan laws and also different unity levels. Another thing to definitely consider is, there are major players used by the overall commercial side of the music and film industry. Those are used not just because they were the first, I am fairly sure :). A good video, just narrow and in need of more investigation. It's a VERY VERY big contentious argument to make mate ;).

My opinion, FWIW,

Tony

pcrecord Wed, 02/07/2018 - 03:17
Makzimia, post: 455672, member: 48344 wrote: Marco,

While I might accept in this case you showed a difference between these 3 DAWs. I would caution using a blanket statement. I'd also point out that yes, different DAWs do default in some cases to different pan laws and also different unity levels. Another thing to definitely consider is, there are major players used by the overall commercial side of the music and film industry. Those are used not just because they were the first, I am fairly sure :). A good video, just narrow and in need of more investigation. It's a VERY VERY big contentious argument to make mate ;).

My opinion, FWIW,

Tony
Thanks Tony.
Within the parameters of my tests which I clearly stated in the video, the results were different sounding files.
I don't think I've made any claims other than this.
Pan behaviours, level and even dithering were at play... That's for sure !
But It was aimed at real users whom 99% won't go deep into the softwares to change those behaviours (if the software allows to make the changes)

But frankly, I'm an IT (20 years). I work with computers since 1982.
There is no way in my mind that the coding of audio softwares unless done the same will sound exactly the same.
Manipulating audio is the goal of DAWS, makers take any route they wish to achieve results.

I get your concerns, but we need not to go the opposit side and believe because we've been told. It's not a religion it's technology and science.. ;)

Oh I just got another idea ! I'll make another video which will take the same audio file loaded and exported many times and see how the degradation of recompiling will affect the sound...

pcrecord Wed, 02/07/2018 - 07:10
I'm always happy to be proven wrong, that's the best way to learn ;)

One obvious discovery is that Samplitude produce more High frequency harmonics above 20K which I can't account for anything but the quality of the engine.
I will be transiting from Sonar to Samplitude soon.. this makes it even more exciting !

kmetal Wed, 02/07/2018 - 09:16
this is a great Vid Marco! something ive been wanting to do myself for a while now! i instantly heard a difference on my budget laptop speakers, on the un-mixed tracks. these tests illustrate exactly what ive been hearing and saying all these years, having used all of these programs.

the clarity and openess of sampltude is what makes it so good, and reaper unbeateable price considered. if you could do adobe audition, i bet youd hear it sounds most similar to SAM, and pro tools, sounding most similar to cubase. PT?CB has that crunchy mid range, and tough top end. audition and sam have the least coloration of them all (imho) studio one sounds quite good too.

i wonder if, the original tracking engineers had used sampltude, perhaps they'd have heard the slighlty strident mid/top on the vocals, and if yhe same would apply had you mixed initially in Samp. That would likely leave the other programs sounding dull, vs samp sounding bright. having a program like samp, which i believe is clear, not hyped, you can end up doing less processing to get to the final mix. theres a reason Mastering and Broadcast engineers often choose the Samp/Sequoia sound engine.

this is an excellent real world illustration, that Daws dont sound the same, and especially out of the box.

Makzimia, post: 455672, member: 48344 wrote: Marco,

While I might accept in this case you showed a difference between these 3 DAWs. I would caution using a blanket statement. I'd also point out that yes, different DAWs do default in some cases to different pan laws and also different unity levels. Another thing to definitely consider is, there are major players used by the overall commercial side of the music and film industry. Those are used not just because they were the first, I am fairly sure :). A good video, just narrow and in need of more investigation. It's a VERY VERY big contentious argument to make mate ;).

My opinion, FWIW,

Tony

Protools gets used in film becuase of its integration with media composer, and the large scale Icon controller. Junkie Xl who does blockbuster soundtracks, uses an avid system as master for audio/video, with cubase and apollos for the 6 slave machines. Im not sure what you were trying to allude to as far as why they choose what they do, but none of those guys are arguing that its becuase theyre Daw sounds best, or distinguished. ita about speed, and deadlines at that level. My mentor did a song for the band NRG that was due for one of the Transformers movies soundtracks around 2012. the band missed the deadline by a day or two, and were not inlcuded on the motion picture soundtrack. To contrast, in order to maintain a deadline, Family Guy (a staple american animated show) producer Seth Macfarlane called into the studio while the VO artist was tracking, and was coaching him ect, thru a talkback rig my mentor patched up. That was done on digital performer. so its fair to me at least, to say that the comercial entertainment industry uses whatever is available, by and large. since they have a profit motive, and time is money. the record industry is the same, with the recent top 5's at Normandy/Wave Cave, being done on DP. I mention these things only because its me experience that the entire gaumat of Daws is being used at all levels. i was suprsied when surfing Major Studios websites a couple years ago, that a studio like sony, was still using an 02R and Nuemann 87, for one of their VO rooms.

pcrecord, post: 455676, member: 46460 wrote: Thanks Tony.
Within the parameters of my tests which I clearly stated in the video, the results were different sounding files.
I don't think I've made any claims other than this.
Pan behaviours, level and even dithering were at play... That's for sure !
But It was aimed at real users whom 99% won't go deep into the softwares to change those behaviours (if the software allows to make the changes)

But frankly, I'm an IT (20 years). I work with computers since 1982.
There is no way in my mind that the coding of audio softwares unless done the same will sound exactly the same.
Manipulating audio is the goal of DAWS, makers take any route they wish to achieve results.

I get your concerns, but we need not to go the opposit side and believe because we've been told. It's not a religion it's technology and science.. ;)

Oh I just got another idea ! I'll make another video which will take the same audio file loaded and exported many times and see how the degradation of recompiling will affect the sound...

great points. it would be more strange if differently coded programs sounded exactly same. it would point to our gear not being accurate enough. Something i was wondering before i saw this video, was how the standalone mastering in ozone/t-racks, vs doing it in a daw differs soncially. i wonder if theres an audible difference. overall on your test, i prefered reaper, un-mixed, ans Samp, mixed. Your example reinforced my opinions on these Daws, and exemplify why they are my top two choices, (samp overal, reaper for value), with PT there for MC integration, and general file compatibility.

excellent Marco. this is my favorite video, and something that really shows something people arent. i hope this gets alot of views on youtube.

pcrecord Wed, 02/07/2018 - 09:36
kmetal, post: 455686, member: 37533 wrote: the clarity and openess of sampltude is what makes it so good, and reaper unbeateable price considered. if you could do adobe audition, i bet youd hear it sounds most similar to SAM, and pro tools, sounding most similar to cubase
I felt the mix in samplitude was sounding wider too. Instruments sounded more seperated with better presence.
Yes audition could have been a good addition to this test. (can't do them all, I guess..)

kmetal, post: 455686, member: 37533 wrote: i wonder if, the original tracking engineers had used sampltude, perhaps they'd have heard the slighlty strident mid/top on the vocals, and if yhe same would apply had you mixed initially in Samp. That would likely leave the other programs sounding dull, vs samp sounding bright. having a program like samp, which i believe is clear, not hyped, you can end up doing less processing to get to the final mix.
That's right, I would certainly mix differently with Samp than with Sonar.
A thing to consider is that none of the mixes were mastered. A mastering job would certainly push more HF into Sonar and Reaper mixes and some M/S widening would be done too.
Having samp doing a clearer and wider mix from the get go is very surprising to me !

Thanks for the good words Kyle, it means a lot to me !

kmetal Mon, 02/26/2018 - 12:22
i really didnt know about different panning laws between daws, or never really considered their effect at least. Considering how common file transferring and conversion is, its a little disturbing about the effect of the hi end from samp in the demo. Waves plugs, all sound bright to me, and i use them all the time, its no surprise about the top boost on the CLA stuff. its part of the reason i use them, for that cut.

this is really showing how much there is to learn about the tools we're using.

Boswell Wed, 02/07/2018 - 14:06
Nice work, Marco!

The interesting point for me was that the Samplitude clip had an extended high frequency range compared with the other two. Have you tried looking at the spectra of each of the raw tracks to see which one had components at that amplitude in that frequency range? If there is one or more, why were the other DAWs not passing it through? If not, how was Samplitude inventing it?

dvdhawk Wed, 02/07/2018 - 17:21
Well done, Marco! Very intriguing results.

I'd be interested in seeing what happens when each DAW uses the same set of stems output in such a way that they'd only need to be imported into each DAW and simply set at unity - to remove any mixing variables that might occur in the notation and recreating of a mix. Panned dead center, or completely in mono.

pcrecord Wed, 02/07/2018 - 18:39
Boswell, post: 455696, member: 29034 wrote: Nice work, Marco!

The interesting point for me was that the Samplitude clip had an extended high frequency range compared with the other two. Have you tried looking at the spectra of each of the raw tracks to see which one had components at that amplitude in that frequency range? If there is one or more, why were the other DAWs not passing it through? If not, how was Samplitude inventing it?
I'll check that, thanks for the suggestion !

dvdhawk, post: 455698, member: 36047 wrote: Well done, Marco! Very intriguing results.

I'd be interested in seeing what happens when each DAW uses the same set of stems output in such a way that they'd only need to be imported into each DAW and simply set at unity - to remove any mixing variables that might occur in the notation and recreating of a mix. Panned dead center, or completely in mono.
That's a test I want to do as well.. Eliminate the panning laws possible difference.

It's seems a part 2 may be in order !! I'll gather all the suggestions ! ;)

kmetal Wed, 02/07/2018 - 19:22
i think using tracks where the Daw that created them is known, would be helpful. it would give a benchmark of what the audio was intended to sound like by the creator. this would allow us to determine at least subjectively which daws were omitting, or adding to, the audio track. it wouldn't necessarily show which daw was flattest, but it would show how they color audio relative to each other. another thing id be interested in is if simple test tones null out between the different daws. this could show if a daw itself had a response curve. this could a bit more objectively help determine weather samplitude for instance, has a flatter/extended response, or if its hyped.

a separate mastering edition would interest me as well to compare daw vs standalone mastering. just tossing ideas out there.

looking forward to Pt. Deuce.

pcrecord Mon, 02/26/2018 - 13:50
kmetal, post: 455987, member: 37533 wrote: Waves plugs, all sound bright to me, and i use them all the time, its no surprise about the top boost on the CLA stuff.
The Wave plugins were used only on 2 tracks, so I'm not imputing the HF boost only on them (althought they are the ones responsibles for high harmonics about 20K.
I think in general Amplitude is more dynamic and revealing regarding audio quality..

I remixed the last demo I did (young Rock/Emo group) entirely from samplitude and I had the same realisation. More open, more dynamic mix.
I find it hard to adapt to the workflow.. but the sound is worth it...
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